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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

"Bobby Shaftoe Went to Sea"


Guest mruk

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Hello All,

I came across a Private Joseph Shaftoe who was killed with the 1/7th Northumberland Fusiliers while looking through some casualty details on CWGC. It doesn't seem a particularly common name, and I checked National Archives, and there's only fifteen listed on MIC. [Most seemed to be serving with Northern Regiments] It got me thinking, though, of the rhyme, 'Bobby Shaftoe Went To Sea', and what it's origins were. I'm sure it was pre-WW1, given the 'silver buckles', etc., but does anyone know where it originated, and under what circumstances? I'd be very interested to hear.

Kind Regards,

Dave

Shaftoe, Joseph Pte. No. 1693 [K.I.A.] 28-4-1915 [1/7th Northumberland Fusiliers] Age: 30 Cemetery-Memorial: Ypres [Menin Gate] Memorial Panel 8 and 12 [son of Sarah Jane Rose [Formerly Shaftoe], 71 Matilda Street, Newcastle-on-Tyne, and the late Joseph Shaftoe: Husband of Jane Shaftoe, Bleach Green, Winlaton, Claydon-on-Tyne, Co. Durham]

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Try Here :Originally An English Folk Song

Shaftoe Origin & Burial Site

Possibly something to do wih the Shafto{e} Family of Beamish Hall

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The Shaftoes lived at Whitworth Hall, Spennymoor, County Durham, having bought it in 1652 from the Westmorelands. Robert(Bonnie Bobbie)Shaftoe left the hall to his son John, who rebuilt it in 1820. It was destroyed by fire in 1876 and in 1891 the surviving parts were incororated into the new Hall, which is now a Hotel.

Graham.

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Hi

We used to sing this song at school. I lived only 10 mins from Beamish Musuem. It was a local song in these parts. Never wondered about the origins until now....

Cheers

Marc.

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Many Thanks Gentlemen,

I thought there might be a north east connection, but not to a real family. I used to sing the song in infants in the late 60s, and there were others of a nautical theme that used to fill playtime--'A Sailor Went To Sea, Sea, Sea', which was some sort of fast-clapping game that the girls used to play, and 'The Big Ship Sailed on the Alley, Alley Oh', which I recently heard on an old 60s film, but can't remember. Possibly, 'Whistle Down the Wind' ['It's baby Jesus', he said with a blocked-up nose.]. Charming and inoffensive, but about lost innocence and realisation.

Kind Regards,

Dave

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Thanks to Graham for the info on Whitworth Hall

From the Whitworth Hall Country Park Hotel website: "Robert Shafto, man of fashion and M.P. for County Durham. He died in 1797 but his name was made famous by the ballad:

Bobbie Shafto went to sea

Silver Buckles on his knee

He'll come back and marry me

Bonny Bobbie Shafto"

The Shafto family moved into Beamish Hall at the beginning of the 20c [see the Beamish Hall Hotel website "the Eden family, who lived there until 1904....The Hall eventually came into the Shafto family, following the death of Mr Slingsby Eden"] well after the days of Bobby Shafto.

And over forty years ago, yours truly used to work at Beamish Hall when it was No. 5 Area HQ of the Durham division of the NCB. Unfortunately my office overlooked the stable yard, but we enjoyed walking in the gardens at lunch times. I knew of the Shafto connection at Beamish, but until Graham's post above I was also amongst those who presumed it went back the times of the famous Bobby

Regards

Michael

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It got me thinking, though, of the rhyme, 'Bobby Shaftoe Went To Sea', and what it's origins were. I'm sure it was pre-WW1, given the 'silver buckles', etc., but does anyone know where it originated, and under what circumstances? I'd be very interested to hear.

I've also wondered about the origins of the Bobby Shaftoe song and now we know. Whilst on the subject does anyone know anything about "The big ship sailed on the alley, alley-oh". "What is the alley alley oh", "ally ally oh", "allez allez oh"?

Andy

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THE BIG SHIP SAILS ON THE ALLY-ALLY-OH

The big ship sails on the ally-ally-oh, the ally-ally-oh, the ally-ally-oh,

Oh, the big ship sails on the ally-ally-oh, on the last day of September.

The captain said it will never, never do, never, never do, never, never do,

The captain said it will never, never do, on the last day of September.

The big ship sank to the bottom of the sea, the bottom of the sea, the bottom of the sea,

The big ship sank to the bottom of the sea, on the last day of September.

We all dip our heads in the deep blue sea, the deep blue sea, the deep blue sea,

We all dip our heads in the deep blue sea, on the last day of September.

Can't get this out of my head now!

Marina

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Possibly thought to be related to the opening of the Manchester Ship Canal~The Big Ditch.

Adopted from the Irish children's colloquialism for the Sea "The Illey Alley O"

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I remember this from Junior school. The big girls organised it. Involved holding hands and the line going under a girl's arm forming an arch against the wall. Teachers stopped it as the line must have had well over a hundred in it. This was the days of 11+ at the end of WW2 when at one stage my class had 63 in it.

Kath.

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I remember this from Junior school. The big girls organised it. Involved holding hands and the line going under a girl's arm forming an arch against the wall. Teachers stopped it as the line must have had well over a hundred in it. This was the days of 11+ at the end of WW2 when at one stage my class had 63 in it.

Kath.

What's right, Kath! It;s been driving me nuts all day , humming that song and trying to remember EXACTLY what we did !

I remembered a sort of conga line - had forgotten the arch!

Marina

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This was the days of 11+ at the end of WW2 when at one stage my class had 63 in it.

& "amazingly" nearly everyone learn't to read & write,& become useful members of society,

what price Education,education,education ;)

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Well both those songs take me back more years than I care to remember. We sang them at primary school here in NZ when I was a kid in the 50's.

Cheers, Diane

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  • 8 years later...

Hi there, my name is Andy McQueen, Joseph Shaftoe was my Great Grandfather on my mums side. I'm currently trying to research some details of the action in which he was killed and wondered if anyone could assist?

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Hello Andy, and welcome to the Forum!

You need to start a completely new thread in the "Soldiers" section of the Forum. Include his name and his regiment in the title of the thread, with any other info you have about him.

I suggest that you also visit the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, www.cwgc.org, and go to the "Debt of Honour" section, and copy the details of his death and burial into your query.

In that way, the people who know about that particular regiment are more likely to see your query.

Good luck!

Ron

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It's a song with Geordie connections, if not origins. I was taught as a child in Wallsend during the 50s. Further the rhyme in the last (second) verse only works if sung in a Geordie accent:

"Bobby Shaftoe bright and fair,

Combing back his yellow hair

He'll be mine for ever mair (more)"

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Ron - many thanks for the welcome.

I have started a new thread as suggested and a couple of people have kindly replied so far - will also try your other suggestion.

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